Interview: Marc Vooges Chairman of Sympany

By Paazl
July 23, 2018

This month Paazl is talking all things sustainability related and it doesn’t just stop at delivery. With fast-fashion tempting consumers into buying more and more clothing, 124 million kilos of textiles are thrown away every year in the Netherlands alone.

Sympany have an alternative solution. They recycle or sell unused and unworn clothing and use the profits to fund charitable projects in the developing world. We caught up with Chairman, Marc Vooges to discuss recycling, upcycling and how to be a sustainable brand.

Tell us about Sympany’s CircleUp Idea.

We want to make recycling unused clothing and textiles easier. Our idea is to collaborate with retail brands during the delivery process. When items are delivered, a bag of unused clothing will be collected at the same time and recycled by us.

How do you think customer attitudes are changing in terms of sustainability?

There is a definite trend that customers are becoming more environmentally aware. But people don’t always practice what they preach. Sustainability is important to all of us, but it is easy to be seduced by cheap clothing and customers often end up buying far too much. I think there is still a long way to go, but consumers want to make changes, so I am hopeful.

Why do you think consumers are reluctant to recycle their clothes?

I think that convenience plays a roll. However we have clothing containers throughout the Netherlands so most people won’t have to travel far to donate. Those who have limited space may find it easier to simply throw unworn clothing into waste containers than to use specific textile recycling containers.

How can fashion brands be more sustainable?

In terms of manufacturing, if brands used a fabric mix of just one or two materials recycling would be much easier! I also know that a lot of brands throw unsold stock away when there are other ways to get rid of it. I would like to see brands giving unsold stock to us instead. Sympany guarantees that the items won’t be sold via non-transparent ways in Europe again.

Is it the responsibility of fashion brands to be more sustainable?

In my opinion brands are too quick to say that they operate in unsustainable ways because of customer demand. I am someone who believes in economics, but I would like to see brands shift their efforts to making the system more ethical.

How does the process of upcycling and recycling work?

We have collection containers throughout the Netherlands and also provide a collection service. We have four sorting centres in the Netherlands, which is where all collected items end up. Clothes that can be worn again will be sold to a buyer and anything unwearable will be upcycled.

We try to find innovate ways to upcycle clothing. In one of our recent pilots we made yarn out of unwearable clothing. The profits from these initiatives fund a number of international projects.

Can you give an example of an ethical or sustainable brand?

Dutch denim retailers Kuyichi are a good example of a sustainable brand. They use only sustainable materials such as organic and recycled cotton. We are actually collaborating to bring out a pair of jeans in October that are made of 24% recycled denim from unsold Kuyichi stock or denim that Sympany has collected and recycled.

Inspired to make your online brand more sustainable?

Get clued up on sustainability by joining our webinar where we will be sharing tips and tricks on how your online store can go greener.

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